It was not difficult for the Apostle Paul to identify true repentance in the church at Corinth.
Sorrow after a godly sort.
In all these things proving oneself clear in a matter.
We have again just witnessed what passes for an apology in the PRC.
And it bore no resemblance to 2 Corinthians 7:11.
On Sunday morning, October 24, Grandville PRC had an announcement read from its pulpit.
We are told that the announcement said that Koole’s Witsius articles were false doctrine and that Rev. Koole admitted to militating against against synod.
I am told it also included a statement that the consistory declares him to be orthodox.
Hard to know exactly what it said, because that announcement is not public.
They muted the microphone while the announcement was read.
And if, as a member of that church, you would like to know what the announcement said because you were not in attendance that morning, they will not give you the announcement itself, but they would be happy to read it to you. (If that sounds familiar, it should.)
I wonder if during the meeting when this course of action was approved, any elder had the temerity to raise his hand and say, “Excuse me, Mr. Chairman, since Rev. Koole taught false doctrine publicly, why are we going to such great lengths to keep this apology private?”
Or this: “Mr. Chairman, 2 Corinthians 7:11 speaks of ‘clearing yourself.’ Wouldn’t it then be a good idea to make sure this is public so that the entire denomination and world knows that Rev. Koole is sorry for what he has done? Does doing our utmost to keep this hidden in the darkness really resemble the clearing of ourselves spoken of in 2 Corinthians 7:11?”
Or this: “Mr. Chairman, since Grandville PRC took such an active role in the ungodly act of deposing Elder Neil Meyer, and since we have never once expressed even a shred of sorrow for that wickedness, maybe now is a time for us to show our congregation and denomination what true repentance looks like?”
Or this: “Mr. Chairman, do we think we can get away with this kind of secret behavior just because we no longer have any members who will hold us accountable?”
But there was a public apology in the Standard Bearer.
I mean, an “apology” in the Standard Bearer.
I need to use quotation marks because it was not an apology.
It included these words: “My consistory pointed out that a number of Witsius’ statements, as they are worded, no matter how I read them and was convinced what Witsius meant by them, stand in contradiction to decisions of our recent synods (in particular those of 2018) and to our confessions, and thus constitute false doctrine.”
But that seems a bit strange.
Is that all he is sorry for?
Is that all the consistory of Grandville PRC pointed out to Rev. Koole?
Compare, for a moment, the theology for which an “apology” had to be made, to a statement made on the editorial page of the Standard Bearer in October of 2018.
In particular I was pointed to Witsius stating, in the context of the utility (usefulness) of holiness and good works, that “Scripture teaches that something must be done that we may be saved.” (Koole, “Apology,” 11/5/21 SB)
But is it altogether improper for preachers so much as to suggest that there is that which one can do (is able to do)? And then, in the end, to go so far as to declare that if a man would be saved, there is that which he must do? (Koole, “What Must I Do…?” 10/1/18 SB)
Let us not forget that in 2018 and 2019, Rev. Koole went on for quite some time and with some vigor to defend the theology of man’s “doing.” That went on until men higher up the food chain in the PRC got him to back off (for a few months).
Well, isn’t Rev. Koole sorry for what he did in the months immediately following Synod 2018? Isn’t he sorry for throwing sand into the eyes of an entire denomination and confusing the people and corrupting the gospel?
Can’t the consistory of Grandville PRC see that Witsius’ theology is Koole’s theology circa 2018?
Let us be clear about something. The statement that was read from the pulpit of Grandville PRC was no apology at all. It was no statement of sorrow. It was a complete sham. It was a chloroform-soaked rag applied to the face of every member of that congregation.
Go back to sleep.
It was a sham not only because Rev. Koole was not even in the audience when the announcement was read, as he was off preaching elsewhere that Sunday morning.
Neither was it a sham only because that very evening he was off flirting with the same false doctrine at Southwest PRC. (If you had just apologized for corrupting fundamental doctrines of the faith, wouldn’t you get about preaching sermons that were so focused on the sovereignty and grace (particular, not the other kind) of God that you might even draw the charge of being one-sided?)
Neither was it a sham because a few weeks after admitting he taught false doctrine during the heart of a controversy on justification by faith alone, he was off representing the PRC at NAPARC. (Maybe replace him for this go-around until you can be sure he is orthodox?)
The reason it was a sham, and what makes it so easy to identify it as such, is that he did not apologize for what he wrote immediately after Synod 2018.
Neither did Grandville PRC’s consistory insist that he apologize for that.
But why not?
The theology is the same. In fact, it is almost word for word the same.
Why not go back to the beginning?
Rev. Koole couldn’t do that.
Because to go beyond the Witsius articles to the actual false doctrine itself would touch more men than just Rev. Koole.
Including Rev. McGeown, who has just burst back onto the scene in the PRC.
Rev. McGeown previously made a contribution to the controversy in the PRC by writing a lengthy article in the April 2019 issue of the Protestant Reformed Theological Journal (PRTJ).
What was going on at that time was quite significant.
In direct contradiction to Synod 2018, Rev. Koole was writing that if a man would be saved, that is, if a man would know that he was saved, there was that which he must do.
Revs. Langerak, Lanning, and VanderWal objected.
The rest of the denomination would have none of them.
Everyone rose up to defend faith as a doing as if it were a key tenet of the faith and one that we had been taught from our earliest days.
The three ministers who spoke up against such a theology were pilloried.
Rev. Koole was defended.
Rev. McGeown was no exception.
He took up his pen and wrote his lengthy defense of faith as a doing.
There was no question why he was writing as he was.
He was defending Rev. Koole, and more importantly, Rev. Koole’s theology.
At a time when the recent controversy was becoming more and more serious for more and more people (“Synod said this was about justification by faith alone?!”), Rev. Koole confused the people and corrupted the gospel with his talk of faith as a doing.
Three ministers rose up in defense of the gospel.
Rev. McGeown rose up in defense of a man and that man’s theology.
And now he is back.
In an article in the November 15, 2021, issue of the Standard Bearer, Rev. McGeown took it upon himself to educate the readership about the controversy that has just been settled in the PRC.
What is fascinating is that Rev. McGeown’s article appears in the same issue as an “apology” from Rev. Koole.
Which illustrates why the apology can’t go any further.
Were Rev. Koole to apologize for making faith a work in the series of articles that appeared beginning in 2018, Rev. McGeown would certainly have to apologize for his further confusion and misleading of the people by his defense of Koole and his defense of such language in the PRTJ.
And were Rev. McGeown to apologize, that would certainly require the editors of the Standard Bearer to apologize because when they shut down the debate on Rev. Koole’s articles that made faith a work, Prof. Dykstra pointed the readers to Rev. McGeown’s PRTJ article that had defended the language of faith as “doing” as a “thorough, Reformed presentation on faith and works.”
Not to mention all of the other ministers and elders who defended that theology.
Over and over and over again, all we heard was a defense of Rev. Koole and Rev. Koole’s theology.
But it is not just Rev. Koole.
It’s not just Rev. Koole’s theology.
There are those who console themselves with the fact that Rev. Koole is no longer editor. They are deluding themselves. The sickness goes far deeper than that.
To try and root out the false doctrine that has now permeated the PRC would require far more than just an insincere apology.
Follow that thread all the way, and what you will find is a theological and ecclesiastical Gordian knot.
It involves the men who serve as church visitors and synodical presidents and stated clerks and professors.
Can you imagine what that investigation would uncover?
No, far better for Rev. Koole to fall on his sword and simply “apologize” for dragging Herman Witsius out of the mausoleum.
And now Rev. McGeown is back.
And he shows no remorse for having confused the people when the controversy was reaching fever pitch.
He doesn’t apologize for his having contributed to the confusion.
He doesn’t even mention his earlier contribution.
He has other things to write about now.
And not being satisfied with just confusing the people, he now misleads them.